A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore
This book had a complex storyline and it takes great skill to weave the threads of the book separately then coming together to bring the story to conclusion.
The central character is Jude, who works at a London auctioneers house and by chance answers a ringing telephone in her office. The caller wants a valuation on a fascinating collection of early astronomical books and equipment which have been passed down through his family. On establishing that the seller is living in Jude’s home town , where her Grandmother, sister and niece still live Jude agrees to go and visit the seller for an assessment. Once she has arrived in Norfolk she sees the collection is a fine example of 18th Century history and immediately sets about assessing the collection, and Jude stumbles across a set of journals of the astronomer Anthony Wickham and his daughter Ester. She asks the mother of the seller if there is any more details on the family, only to be told that Wickham did not have any children. Jude is immediately curious.
Meanwhile, she sees her sister and niece and is suddenly aware that her niece is having dreams. Dreams that she too experienced as a child. Was this a coincidence? The seller of the collection then confirms that he is definitely going to sell the collection and Jude is then thrust into the world of the Wickhams. There is an Folly in the grounds and Jude is intrigued. In the forest surrounding the property she meets Euan, who by chance lives in the cottage her Grandmother lived in and we start to see the gentle threads of the complex story forming. Ester’s journal is in some parts a summary of her early life, found as a young child by Wickham she is adopted as his heir, but later on we see that, after Wickham’s death his wishes are not carried out. Over the course of a little more than 450 pages Rachel Hore weaves a complex story in which the lives of the Wickhams and Jude’s family are connected, added to that are connections to other characters who do not appear until later in the book.
This book has been painstakingly written, and although a work fiction there has been research undertaken using the methods available as if the storyline were real. Certainly my best read of the year so far and I am looking forward to more from this author.